While I was out for dinner with a girlfriend, my cell phone rang. It was a good friend of my husband, who passed away years earlier.
Not knowing why he was calling, I answered.
“Hey, I heard your daughter wants to transfer. Can we talk about it? I really don’t think you should let her.” he said.
“Um, I’m at dinner. Can I call you tomorrow?” I asked.
He said yes but I never returned the call.
Friends don’t always understand the decisions we make for our kids
Since my husband died, our friends have been so good to me and my daughters. They go out of their way for us and are always ready to help. I am very appreciative of them. But sometimes friends cannot understand the decisions we need to make for our own children as their mothers.
My younger daughter is a perfectionist when it comes to schoolwork and it shows in her grades. In her early years of high school, she set her sights on a particular college and worked incredibly hard to get in. It was her “dream school” and when she was accepted, she was the happiest girl in the world.
She found a great roommate, carefully chose her classes, and went on “get-togethers” before even arriving at school to meet other kids.
We moved her in, her room looked fantastic, and before we even left her dorm, she had plans to go out that night with her roommate and some girls down the hall. Her first semester seemed to go seamlessly. Her grades were fantastic and, from what I could tell, her social life was great.
When she was home over winter break, she said she loved school and did seem happy. But I had a nagging feeling; that feeling a mother gets when she just senses something isn’t right.
I buried those thoughts, telling myself that I was just a nervous mother. She was at her “dream school” and all was good.
My “mom radar” told me something wasn’t right
When I dropped her at the airport last January for her second semester, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. I didn’t believe it was anything serious such as drugs. It was more of an underlying sadness about school that I was sensing.
Within the first weeks of her return to campus, she began calling me often, which was not common for her. Then, she began to share things with me – sorority rush was not going as she had hoped, the girls she had become fast friends with during first semester were no longer reaching out, and she began spending weekends alone in her dorm room while everyone was out partying.
Soon, she was crying during every phone call and was bringing up the subject of transferring.
My first response was NO. This was her dream school! She couldn’t leave there. She needed to make more of an effort with those girls, meet new people, join clubs, go to the gym. This had to work. There was no way that she was transferring.
This went on for weeks (and to her mother it felt like months). She tried some of my suggestions, and others she refused. But nothing changed. By the time she flew home for spring break, I had given in and we began working on her transfer applications.
My daughter was miserable at her “dream school”
She was miserable at what was supposed to be her dream school. This upset her more than anything else. How could she be so unhappy at a place she wanted to be at so badly?
The answer hit me as I said it to her. Just because she had decided when she was 15 years old that this was the school for her, it didn’t mean that it was. How could anyone be so sure of anything at that age after having spent only a few hours on a tour of a school?
Transferring has a bit of a stigma. Something must be wrong with the child, they just couldn’t make it, they aren’t tough enough. More often than not, the school just wasn’t the right fit, and that’s ok. This was the case with my daughter.
Why should I force her to stay where she is unhappy? As well meaning as people are, they cannot understand how horrible we feel when our children are miserable. I could not have lived with myself if I forced that on her.
This fall, she transferred to a school that wasn’t even on her radar when she did her original applications. It’s still early, but it seems like this just might be a much better fit for her. Seeing her happy where she is makes it all worthwhile.
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